Think Printing Photos Is Declining? Think Again…

The Pew Research Center reports that roughly three-quarters of Americans own a smartphone. In addition, 92% of young people 18 to 29 carry a cameraphone. A report by F/22 Consulting and Photo Imaging News, Expanding the U.S. Photo Printing Market,* estimates that Americans captured 1.2 trillion images in 2016.

In total, 85% were taken with smartphones. These captures translated to 176 million print orders as well as 8.2 billion printed units, including prints, wall art, photo books and personalized gifts. PrintingRise-PullQuote“The number and quality of photos captured today (especially on smartphones) is nothing short of staggering. And it’s a global phenomenon,” says the recently published analysis by Don Franz and Frank Baillargeon. “Mobile adoption, equally staggering advances in intelligent and automated photo management, and new mobile photo printing business models represent an unprecedented foundation for substantial and sustained growth of demand.”

What does this surge in digital capture mean for the photo printing industry? For companies on the front line of digital print fulfillment, the numbers are good.

Fujifilm North America Corporation

Fujifilm has been on the pioneering end of digital delivery since the late 1990s. “We were the first company to develop and implement a distribution fulfillment system that allowed consumers to order their prints online and pick them up in the store,” says Manny Almeida, president, Imaging Division, Fujifilm North America Corporation.

© Fujifilm North America Corporation

“The U.S. market saw its peak in photo printing in 2003,” he says. “There were 860 million rolls of film sold that year, with an average of 27 prints per roll. That’s almost 19 billion prints. Today, the print market is certainly not that big. But the print category is still $1.5 billion, and the decline is beginning to plateau. At one time, prints were declining at a rate of 30% per year. Over the last year or two, it’s been declining at 3.5%. So it’s really starting to flatten out.

“Printing is different today,” adds Almeida. “There’s a myriad of personalized photo products; over 400 different products available from Fujifilm alone. So while orders for 4×6-inch prints are down, overall printing is up. We have higher value orders. An average order 15 years ago would be in the $8 to $9 range, today it’s around $2

“The important part for us at Fujifilm is that there is opportunity in photo printing. It’s not like it was 15 or 20 years ago. It’s a different opportunity but still a tremendous opportunity. People don’t necessarily want to print a whole bunch of 4×6 prints, but they want to create photo products such as wall décor and products they can give as gifts. The printing industry is about figuring out what consumers want and how they want it.”

*Article by Kim Brady from and Expanding the U.S. Photo Printing Market, by F/22 Consulting and Photo Imaging News

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